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Editor’s Letter – 12/19/18

“All time is all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations. It simply is. Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all, as I've said before, bugs in amber.” - Kurt Vonnegut, ‘Slaughterhouse Five’

The Tulsa Voice turned five years old this week. We celebrated the milestone at Studio 75 in Kendall Whittier, with an art show featuring every TTV cover ever printed. There was something moving about seeing them all at once: immaculately-designed snapshots of a city before I knew it, each marking the passage of another two weeks in Tulsa.

The bottom row featured covers from my time in the editor’s chair—a paltry 10 of 120. Six months. Half a year. It was surreal to see the representation of a small blip of time that has felt so very large to me.

I thought about the largeness of the stories inside: Alicia Chesser Atkin’s moving, human-sized look at detention and asylum for a young Venezuelan immigrant named José; Carl David Goette-Luciak’s harrowing dispatch from the bloody political uprising in Nicaragua; Liz Blood’s deep dive on domestic violence in Tulsa; Lyndsay Knecht’s lyrical history on the Oklahoma roots of regional ballet in the United States; and Fraser Kastner’s fly-on-the-wall interviews with the hardworking weed dealers of our fine city—to name just a few that have jostled me (and, I hope, some of you) over these last six months.

The timing of this anniversary is fitting, as year-end norms compel us to take stock of the year behind us. We’ve got a whole issue dedicated to the act of looking back. First: Barry Friedman’s 10th annual Bad Penny Awards, in which our resident bullshit-caller takes on the worst of the past twelve months. You’ll also find TTV year-end staff picks; a rundown on local musicians’ favorite albums of the year; and a 2018 wrap-up with our film critics Jeff Huston and Charles Elmore.

Then, some looking-back that’s more spiritual. Mason Whitehorn Powell reports from the Brooklyn studio of Tulsa artist Joe Andoe, who draws on his adolescent memories of Green Country to create ghostly, dreamlike paintings of horses and landscapes that will mysteriously break your heart. We’ve also got a beautiful story about Tulsa’s historic downtown cathedrals by Hunter Cates, with gorgeous photos by Valerie Wei-Haas, which digs into the history of these stunning, pre-statehood structures and ponders their future and ours.

Year-end culture, like timekeeping itself, can feel oppressive in its way—an authoritarian impulse to reflect and rank. But even if these units of time are arbitrary, or history never really ends, or you didn’t listen to much new music this year, there’s value in pausing a moment to gather ourselves against the dumb thrumming of time.

So here it is, Tulsa: our bug in amber, the year in everything.   

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